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Jan 5, 2018

B.T.L. and U.H.S. – 1 of These Things is Not Like the Other

Dean Barrow

In reply, with assistance from Mesopotamia representative Michael Finnegan, Prime Minister Dean Barrow attempted to show how circumstances have changed. As the P.M. said, B.T.L. is majority-owned by the government and the Social Security Board, and it is a public service. He also noted that such government guarantees are par for the course, and suggested that the proposed B.T.L. guarantee is to facilitate a more noble purpose than the characterized U.H.S. loan.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“A private company is, as you know, a particular legal construct. And the fact is that B.T.L. is a private company, but the fact also is that it is owned in the majority by the government and people of Belize. It is a fact that as, the Minister of Housing pointed out to you, is enshrined in the Constitution. Why do you have a difficulty understanding this? But you claim that when I say it is a private company owned by the people of Belize, that I am somehow dodging and skipping! No, please. I am simply stating a fact, and if the impoverishment of your intellect is such that you can’t digest that the two things are not irreconcilable, then that is on you, sir; that is not on me. Now, Madam Speaker, among the several things that were said, was that a government guarantee for a private company is a government guarantee, is a government guarantee, as though there is something intrinsically wrong with the fact of a government guarantee, as though it has nothing to do with for what purpose a government guarantee is being offered and to whom. Again – hoist on his own petard, caught in his own trap – the member for Caribbean Shores – in fact no, I think this was the point dilated on by his father. Either one of them or perhaps both of them, said U.H.S. was a private company too, and so you cannot make any distinction in terms of the guarantee they offered for U.H.S. and the guarantee we are prepared to offer for B.T.L. U.H.S. was a private company, privately owned and controlled. B.T.L. is a private company, owned and controlled by the people and government of Belize! (Applause) And the purpose of the guarantee that government wishes to enter into is for the improvement of the product, of the service, that B.T.L. is offering to the consumers. (Interruption) Precisely so. It is not, as in the case of the guarantee you offered for U.H.S., for Dr. [Victor] Lizarraga, and Luke Espat, and Dr. Atanascio Cob, and those who were in fact cronies of your government, and were being facilitated with public monies and public commitments just so that they could make a private profit.”

 

The motion was referred to the House’s Finance and Economic Development Committee.

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